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Crees [archive]

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The Cree language is part of the Algonquian linguistic group. The Cree in Quebec speak their language and, with Ojibwe and Inuktitut, Cree is among those rare Native languages in North America with a very good chance of surviving and even progressing in the future.

The name "Cree" developed out of their experience of becoming "Christians". In their own language, however, they are just as likely to use the words "Ayisiyiniwok" and "lyiniwok", which mean "men", to identify themselves.

Total Population

The population of the Cree Nation in Quebec is estimated at 12,430 people, with more than 10,400 residents in one or the other of the nine Cree communities in the province. Other communities are located in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.


Cree territories in Quebec are located in the northwestern and central parts of the province that run inland from James Bay and Hudson Bay. The Cree have lived in his region for about 5,000 years. The game, fish and estuaries of major rivers found in the region have been at the source of all developments in the history of this Nation.

From the first contact with the Europeans, and the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1600's, right through to the building of large-scale hydro-electric projects in the 1970's, it has been the natural resources of Cree territories that have had the most influence on events for this people.

Together with the Inuit, they undertook negotiations with the Quebec and Canadian governments to sign the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975. This historic agreement, the first of its kind between Native and non-Native parties, defines their territories and the rights attached to them.


There are nine communities that make up the Cree Nation in Quebec. Four are located on the eastern littoral of James Bay: Chisasibi, Eastmain, Waskaganish, and Wemindji. Whapmagoostui is on the coast of Hudson Bay, and the other four, Mistissini, Nemiscau, Oujé-Bougoumou, and Waswanipi, are in the interior of the James Bay basin.


Each community has its own band council for the administration of local affairs. The Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec represents all communities in terms of political planning. Programs and services provided to the communities are coordinated by the Cree Regional Authority with the collaboration of the Cree Housing Corporation, the Cree Regional Boards of Health and Social Services, and the Cree School Board.

Celebrated Personalities

Matthew Coon-Come - Grand Chief
Lily Blacksmith - Elder

Additional Reading

 Native People
 Cree Language
 Cree Indians
 Plains Cree
 Cree Creation Story

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